The University of Missouri football team refused to play last month in solidarity with other student protesters demanding the resignation of the school’s former president, Tim Wolfe.
The football strike, in addition to a hunger strike and quad camp-out led to Wolfe’s official resignation which was a victory for students, particularly students of color who felt the administration was doing a poor job of handling race issues on campus.
But now, instead of celebrating students’ bravery and collective action, the right-wing lawmakers in Missouri want them to “pay” for their defiance and make sure they never take a stand again.
Some elected officials want to implement legislation that revokes any athlete’s scholarship that refuses to play his sport for any reason unrelated to health, according to newly proposed House Bill 1743 introduced by State Rep. Rick Brattin (R-MO).
It is clearly a reaction to the Mizzou football team’s threat to strike, which technically never ended up happening because Wolfe resigned before they could miss any games.
One player reportedly said of the proposed law, “We joke about the NCAA plantation politics but this wild. What’s next? We lose scholarships if we go to a protest, or if we speak in class?”
This bill is clearly a scheme to silence student voices, especially considering it directly targets a team that is made up of mostly black players.
In essence, you could say such a law would abate black-American culture and identity which embodies the use of civil disobedience to promote change, i.e. the Civil Rights movement.
Beyond infringing on culture, the law would be a direct violation of students’ rights and it sends a very negative message that student-athletes are only an asset to the campus when a ball is in their hands.
This new bill isn't going to be passed without a fight, according to students and faculty who were appalled by such a blatant ploy to discourage dissent and silence them.
“Representative Brattin is clearly stating with the introduction of this legislation that these young men are black labor, here for entertainment and revenue, not as students," Missouri women’s gender studies Professor Dr. Rebecca Martinez reportedly said.
"If this legislation passes it will do harm to our campus by further silencing rather than encouraging dissent and pluralism from ALL of our students which, after all, are hallmarks of critical thinking and education. Our interim chancellor sent out Mizzou community an email regarding this, where he said, ‘Mizzou, to its credit, is a place where dissent and activism are not just tolerated, but embraced.'”
Banner Photo Credit: Twitter @SInow